Videos

The Gentleman’s (+ Momma) End of Summer Strawberry Jam (video)

Knock knock knock.

Gentleman Caller.

If you, dear reader, haven’t noticed how much I enjoy all things strawberry, well, you need to spend more time on this website. It’s summer’s end and not the most traditional time to put up strawberry preserves, especially given that I am presently in Texas. But momma and I discovered some beautiful berries at the local grocery store on sale for a song. Since I sing for my supper, I couldn’t pass up the bargain.

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Momma, Sharon Jo Thompson Taylor, has a backyard resplendent with gifts from the ground. I must tell you I am quite responsible for much of that, but don’t tell her I took credit. Presently she has a sweet mint plant that has somehow been kept at bay and we decided to enhance our jam recipe with some mint and brighten it with lemon peel.

Now, these strawberries are glorious on their own and those enhancements are simply gilding the lily, but it’s kind of like gluing glitter on something and I am always going to do that.

So I give to you, The Gentleman Caller’s (and Momma’s) End of Summer Strawberry Jam.

Here’s what you need:

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  • Mason jars, rings and lids to accommodate about 5 pints of jam
  • 8 cups of cut up strawberries with the green cap removed
  • 7 cups (YES, SEVEN) of granulated white sugar
  • 1 box of Sure-Jell; fruit pectin
  • 2 tablespoons of very finely chopped mint
  • 2 teaspoons of lemon zest
  • 1 pat approximately 1 tablespoon butter

Sterilize your jars , lids and rings by boiling them in a large stock pot for 10 minutes.

 

While killing germs in the above step, in another large stock pot or dutch oven start putting heat on the chopped berries. Take a potato masher and mash the berries to the consistency you like. I enjoy tangible pieces of berry in my jam so I try to achieve a nice ratio of mashed fruit to larger bits. This will give you a shoulder workout.

By this time the lids and rings should be sterile. Use tongs to remove them from the boiling water and place them on a CLEAN towel.

Add the box of pectin (Sure-Jell) to the mashed fruit with the pat of butter. This is going to keep the foam to a minimum.

Crank up the heat and get the berries to a rolling boil. A rolling boil is a boil that persists while stirring. Once that is achieved, add the sugar swiftly. I know this seems like a sh** ton of sugar – it is. If you don’t use this much it will not set up. Let me repeat, It Will Not Set Up. And you will have already gone to all this work!

Bring the mixture back to a full rolling boil for precisely one minute. Remove from heat. Skim any foam with a slotted spoon. Toss in the lemon zest and mint; stir.

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Ladle the boiling hot lava berry mix into the prepared jars. It is VERY hot! If you have silicon hot pads, use them. They rinse clean the most easily. I didn’t have a funnel on hand so I sliced a soda bottle in half, washed it up, and it did a  fine job. Plus I didn’t have to clean it up! Leave about ½  inch from the top when filling; wipe any jam off the lids if you spill.

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Tighten lids and bands on the jars.

Bring the water you used to sterilize the jars back to a simmer. If you have a rack to put on the bottom, great. If not, get some extra rings and put those on the bottom to keep the jars off the metal pot surface. Put the jars in and cover the tops with at least an inch of water. Bring to a solid boil.

Process your jam in the boiling water for 10 minutes. After that, remove them carefully from the cauldron of hot water and set them right side up on a towel. Allow to remain upright and cool for 24 hours. You’ll hear the lids give a cute little <pop> as they cool. That is a good thing! It means they’re sealed. If any don’t pop, store in the refrigerator and use within two weeks.

This jam is so good that my mom and stepdad kept getting into the leftover with their spoons and finally broke down and went to the store for a baguette!

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Finally, there’s an art to selecting the right jar. This is a special project and you should want to use special jars. Mom actually played a key role in this one; she selected very cute ½ pint jars and we decided they should definitely be labeled as well. The flourishes add to the deliciousness of the product, whether you realize it right away or not. Your friends will be impressed, so do it right!

Tell me how you do with this in the comments!

Out for now,

The Gentleman Caller

 

The Italian Brunch Pudding, aka How to Make Your Sleepover Guest Think You Have All Your S*** Together

Printable PDF at the bottom of the page!

Knock knock knock.

Gentleman Caller.

I hesitate to give you this information because it is so powerful. If you want to go from engorged to engaged, this is the way to do it. Now is your chance to turn back, because once you have this information you can’t un-learn it.

It’s the sleepover strata, the Italian Brunch Pudding.

Sleeping over with someone is a thing. No toothbrushes. Did I sleep in my contacts? You know what I mean. If you have an inkling it might happen and you do a  little pre-production, you can FULLY entrap your prey with this little trick.

Take these steps a day or two before and have it set up in your fridge. Here we go.

What you’ll need:

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  • 8 eggs
  • 2 challah rolls / half an old french loaf / old bread (the diner by me gives away challah rolls and I never eat them)
  • 1 cup of half and half
  • 5 stalks of rapini
  • 3/4 cup cheese (I used a pecorino with a  red chili pepper coating. Go with something nutty like a good parm; gruyere would be nice as well)**see note at the bottom
  • fresh chopped flat leaf parsley (couple of tablespoons)
  • fresh chopped marjoram (to taste, a couple of tablespoons)
  • 1 tsp white pepper
  • 1 tsp salt (adjust if your cheese is really salty)
  • 1/2 tsp fresh grated nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder

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Steam the rapini for 60-120 seconds depending on how thick the stalks are. Do not overcook it. During those two minutes cube your bread in 1 inch by 1 inch squares.

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Grate the cheese. Chop the rapini.

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Assemble in layers in a square baking dish. I used a disposable because, well, sometimes I am lazy and these are recyclable. Butter the pan, put a layer of bread, spread some rapini, parsley, marjoram around, add some cheese. Continue till the baking dish is full/level. This should work out pretty exactly.

Combine the eggs, half and half, salt, pepper, onion powder and nutmeg and whisk to break up the eggs. Carefully pour the liquid evenly over the bread mixture. I say carefully because if you go too fast the eggs will slop out. I assure you this did NOT happen to me.

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Here’s where the trickery begins: cover it with foil and stick it in the fridge. For as long as you want.

Now when you wake up in the morning to peewee, take it out of the fridge and preheat the oven to 375 degrees. While your guest is showering, put it in the oven covered for 25 minutes. Take off the foil, and while you enjoy your coffee, bake it for another 25 minutes. Then BAM, present a fully cooked breakfast. Just like that, you tricky bitch.

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KelKel helped me eat it on this particular morning.

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Trust me – you are getting afternoon delight.

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If you don’t hurt yourself. Bye for now.

The Gentleman Caller

THE ITALIAN BRUNCH PUDDING, AKA HOW TO MAKE YOUR SLEEPOVER GUEST THINK YOU HAVE ALL YOUR S*** TOGETHER

Pairing: this pairs delightfully with Balsamic Pineapple Salad.

**I got my very special cheese – Red Pepper Coated Pecorino – at Calandra Cheese in the Bronx. 2314 Arthur Avenue. This store will exceed all your cheese dreams and the guys hand you samples like you’re at Costco on a Saturday. If you don’t use red pepper coated pecorino, add some chili flakes for a little heat.7909971862_7e3bd78274_z